The role of instore content
Brands need to work on bridging the online and offline sales experience and use their digital content to encourage in-store sales with thoughtful calls to action and not exclusively online purchases. 81% of shoppers conduct online research before they buy and 60% want to find the physical product before purchasing, so at this stage in the purchase journey, an effective content marketing strategy can drive customers in-store too.
Bringing content marketing in-store
Using a digital presence to signpost and drive customers towards physical shopping experiences is effective, but the role of content in-store needs to enhance a customer experience once they’ve walked through the door. While content offline and online needs to share consistent brand values and voices – a decentralised structure means that stores should cater their content to local customers too.
Robust digital content for online retailers involves sharing tips, personalized recommendations and curated lists in an authentic brand voice. Beacons can be used to locally target shoppers and deliver custom, hyperlocal content. In a retail space, the same ethos behind effective content needs to shine through – is an in-store experience entertaining, informative or engaging?
Online video content is effective for giving customers instructional information about products and enhancing their purchase research. Insight and data generated by successful videos can be crossed over into retail spaces with focused product tutorials, workshops and demos. A Neilsen study found that recommendations, editorial content, reviews and branded websites all build customers trust in products – these aspects can be recreated with in-store content. Brand events in-store should favour teaching and instructional content, rather than making content feel like a promotional exercise. Events can act as native adverts in a physical space.
Interactive retail stands can help brands collect customer intelligence and allows customers to actively engage with their environment. Motion activated screens give customers more information about a product and they can help brands to adapt their displays. Accessing smartphone frequencies will also become more prominent, allowing brands to track a customer’s movements in-store, deliver personalized content and change the layout to match their behaviour. New Look developed an augmented reality campaign in their UAE retail spaces that let customers scan their student card to reveal features and offers in-store.
In-store and online teams must share all of their data to provide a consistent, seamless brand experience online and offline. Online conversations with customers through social channels can allow local retailers to continue the conversation in-store. By aggregating content and interactions with customers through social channels, in-store staff can receive useful insight and inform their own conversations and shape their customer service accordingly. They can pick up on localised trends and personalize in-store experiences for customers that interact with them directly.
Successful content elicits an emotional response from an audience, with good story-telling and an authentic brand voice. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re being advertised to. There are limitations with this online because of the barrier between brand and customer. In-store content can help to break down this barrier and employees can deliver personality-driven content and build a relationship with customers in a tangible way. The aim is to build natural, social experiences with knowledgeable staff.
Connecting online and offline experiences
Engaging digital content is integral and it needs to set the tone for in-store customer experiences and vice versa. Customers spend their time in both environments, so there needs to be consistently quality content in both, as the purchase journey has more entry points and cross-overs. A combination of online and offline purchase research is increasingly being conducted by customers, so both must enhance each other. For example, in-store collections for offline purchases provide the opportunity to personalize the service and content delivered when a customer collects their product. Or allowing customers to easily order items in-store and get them delivered to their home.
Using insight and data from online content campaigns can help to strengthen in-store experiences and transcend the limitations of content. Real tangible in-store experiences and interactions can build trust, authenticity and an emotional connection with customers. A customer that buys exclusively online from a retailer can have an element of distance with a brand, bringing them in to a retail space can create more longevity and purchase opportunities if they receive a positive experience with valuable in-store content. In-store spaces can be a solid venue for interactive content.